Northern Ireland workers more likely to be stuck in low paid work, says IPPR

By agency reporter
August 17, 2018

Workers in a low paid job in Northern Ireland are more likely than in any other part of the UK to stay in low paid work for the rest of their career.

That is a finding of a new report, published by think-tank Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), which sets out that Northern Ireland has a career progression rate of just 2.5 per cent, compared to an average of six per cent across the UK.

In particular, those with low qualification levels in Northern Ireland are less than half as likely to progress to a higher skilled job as people with equivalent skill levels in the UK as a whole.

The report also highlights other challenges to Northern Ireland’s economy, in addition to Brexit, which include:

  • Inactivity rates in Northern Ireland are the worst in the UK, with a spike in inactivity from the mid-40s onwards compared to the rest of the UK
  • Pay rates in Northern Ireland remain the lowest in the UK despite improving over the last decade
  • Productivity rates in Northern Ireland are poorest in the UK - poor productivity underpins poor pay and progression rates and poor economic growth
  • 48 per cent of jobs in Northern Ireland are at high potential for change from automation: the highest in the UK

The think-tank has called for a focus on, and investment in, skills, to be central to tackling these challenges in order to deliver prosperity for Northern Ireland.

Russell Gunson, a Director at IPPR, said: “Low paid workers in Northern Ireland are more likely to stay in low paid work for the rest of their careers than any other part of the UK. While this isn’t the fault of the skills system alone, boosting career progression rates should be a key priority. 

"To tackle Northern Ireland’s current economic problems, and the future challenges of automation and Brexit, Northern Ireland needs to prioritise investment in skills and renew its focus on lifelong learning in particular. Doing so could bring big rewards in boosting productivity, pay and economic growth.

“By bringing business, learners and the skills system together, Northern Ireland can begin to tackle the economic problems of the present, and prepare for the challenges coming down the line through automation and Brexit. Failing to do so would run the risk of entrenching existing inequalities and creating new ones.”

* Read The skills system in Northern Ireland: Challenges and opportunities here

* Institute for Public Policy Research https://www.ippr.org/

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